How do you handle the depression that results from feelings of inadequacy during the Christmas holidays? Perhaps financial stressors or other unfortunate circumstances have you feeling down and challenged in giving. Read more for other ways you can say goodbye to the tyranny of commercialism and still show love through giving.
Dear Dr. B,
Every year during the Christmas holidays, I’m left feeling like I don’t measure up. When I look at what others have, do, and give, there is no way I can compete with that. It leaves me feeling less than others and depressed as a result. There is no way to ignore Christmas, so what can I do?
Sincerely, Challenged in Giving
I’m sure you aren’t alone in your perspective. Each year many go into debt over the holidays because of over-spending, trying to keep up with the Jones’s, or at least trying to keep up with expectations.
The commercialism of the holidays
While the holidays are thought of as a time of good will towards men, the holiday commercialism often perpetuates a focus on ourselves. This is a fast track to the blues.
Commercials foster a “me-mentality” as they encourage us to make lists of all those items we want. Ads beckon our attention to those things we supposedly cannot live without to be successful or feel complete as a person.
Advertisements also cater to that part of our esteem fed by the reactions of others in response to the gifts we give, beckoning us to frequent their stores for the perfect gift to give to display of our love this season. Holiday commercialism fuels pressure-filled giving rather than giving from the heart.
God’s perspective on giving
The scriptures give us a different perspective about giving: “Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give” (2 Corinthians 9:7 ERV).
God’s Word invites us to give of our own volition, not out of expectation or coercion, but because it brings us happiness and we want to show our love.
The value of gifts that cannot be purchased
The holidays may find you with few financial resources available with which to purchase gifts. Don’t discount the value of the precious gift of time, companionship, an act of service, a gentle touch, or an encouraging word.
Sometimes the most appreciated gifts are not those that cost a lot of money, but those that can only be experienced within the heart. So this year, if you are feeling down during the holidays, perhaps because of financial setbacks or unfortunate circumstances, be gentle and extend grace to yourself. Release yourself from the tyranny of commercialism’s message, and seek instead to discover who you can bless by your words, your time, and your presence. You will likely find yourself encouraged as well.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
“As a counselor, I have read many books on depression, but I have never read a book that deals with the spiritual aspect of healing as thoroughly as does Hope Prevails. Dr. Bengtson draws from her own personal journey as well as her professional experience. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has tasted the pain of depression or knows a friend who is depressed.” ~ Gary Chapman, Ph.D., Author of The 5 Love Languages